What musicians say about Kirill Petrenko

What musicians say about Kirill Petrenko


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2015

Andrey Boreyko, conductor: ‘Great choice’.

Daniel Harding, conductor: ‘A serious, humble, dedicated and fascinating musician.’

Anon. conductor: ‘He’s Kleiberesque.’

Sir Peter Jonas, retired intendant: ‘This is a wonderful and visionary appointment for the Berlin Philharmonic and Berlin itself as the artistic centre of Europe. Kirill Petrenko is one of the great conductors of our time.’

Germany’s Culture Minister, Monika Grütters: ‘A lovely surprise, a brilliant choice, a strong signal.’

Fabio Luisi, conductor:  ‘one of the most serious, no-nonsense conductors around, a man dedicated to music, a great colleague and a musician who doesn’t care about personal fame and success, but only cares about the integrity of art.’

Dietmar Schwarz, Intendant of the Deutsche Oper Berlin: ‘A universal conductor’.

kirill petrenko conducting2



  • herrera says:

    And so begins the cult of personality. Despite all protestation otherwise.

    But nothing wrong with that. Classical music has always been built on the cult of personality, from Handel to Haydn to Mozart conquering London, Paris, Prague.

    Don’t deny it, embrace it.

    Hail to Petrenko.

  • Tim Walton says:

    Is he related to Visily?

  • tristan says:

    apparently Jonas Kaufmann also highly appreciates him so he does Tony Pappano another from the same league!
    I like the comment of Anon ‘he is Kleiberesque’ – since Kleiber the orchestra in Munich has not sounded like they do under Petrenko’s baton. Nothing against Peter Jonas comment which I totally agree except mentioning Mehta and Petrenko in one sentence as worlds are between them! Mehta is one of the most overrated ones.

  • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

    Of course everybody is going to praise Caesar once he has the throne. A different question is to see if he can show leadership and vision a’la Karajan when the time demands it.

    IMHO the ensemble needed a commanding figure to re-establish the orchestra as the flagship ensemble for all classical music in the 21st century. These are pressing times, with the whole of the industry falling into ‘pops’ and weird crossover/fusion initiatives to survive and find ‘new audiences’

    Did the orchestra need a Kleiber/Celibidache or did it need a Karajan? (someone who hanged out with the president of Sony, brought in new technologies, and partnered with the highest men in power of his time)

    Only time will tell.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It were the karajanesqueries that contributed to the image of classical music as an elitist cult of the narrow-minded bourgeois. There is nothing wrong with attention for the conductor, but the point is: what KIND of attention? Karajan would not have a career as he had, had he lived today. Conductors who use the music to serve themselves place the horse behind the cart. The greatest respect is commanded by the conductor who, with his (hopelfully great) musical personality first and foremost serves the music, of which he is put in charge. Bruno Walter, Pierre Monteux and Carlo Maria Giulini were telling examples in former times, as today we have Bernard Haitink, Jaap van Zweden, and yes: Kirill Petrenko.

      • Stephen says:

        Karajan wouldn’t have had the career he had had he been alive today? It is true he wouldn’t have been able to make as many recordings but otherwise your remark hugely underestimates a musician so gifted that we are lucky to get one such in a lifetime. Claiming he put himself before music is a meaningless statement. Arguably he held too many top posts but that was because everyone wanted him. He was also blessed with good looks and had hobbies which attracted the media – and which enhanced his music making. His love of mountaineering and flying helped make his Bruckner transcendental.

      • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

        Yours is a very hopeful and idealistic (if you wish, also naive) viewpoint of the business of music. Yes, because it is a business and has been for the last 100 or so years. Purely artistic considerations matter to those actively participating as die hard fans or musicians themselves.

        No doubt the examples you put are celebrated conductors, but do any of them even approach the level of media hype and relevance that Karajan achieved OUTSIDE of the classical music realm?

        Karajan was at the forefront of music technology and presented the CD with the president of SONY. The CAPACITY of the CD was set so he could record Beethoven’s 9th, can you imagine the implications not only for music history, but for human history?? Can you imagine the chief conductor of the current BPhil working with Steve Jobs to set the capacity of the new iPhone/iPOD? Where was Simon Rattle when iTunes, Spotify, and the major changes in the recent history of music happened? THAT’s what I am talking about.

        Sadly, I dont think a single person in Cupertino knows who Simon Rattle is, or what the Berlin Phil is, or anything related to the very small and niche world of classical music.

        Karajan saw a world much larger than concert halls and festivals. Sadly many people here – and in clasisal music in general – don’t.

    • PDQ.BACH says:

      Did the orchestra need a Kleiber/Celibidache or did it need a Karajan? ”

      Speaking of men of power, whom did German president Richard von Weizsäcker, one of the most musically perceptive statesmen of his time, persuade to conduct the BP?
      Precisely: Sergiu Celibidache and Carlos Kleiber. The Celibidache/BP reunion of 1992 is the stuff of legend. As for Kleiber conducting the BP in 1994, to mark Weizsäcker’s adieu as Germany’s (arguably, greatest postwar) president, it is described by those who attended as one of the most riveting musical experiences of their lifetime.

      So the BP clearly benefitted from a shot of Celi and Kleiber.
      Especially after the Karajan doldrums.

      • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

        1) read my reply above.

        2) I would argue your example about Kleiber precisely makes my point: Kleiber’s influence and repute was confined to the classical music traditional safe havens (Germany,Austria), but other than that?

        Karajan was an international ambassador of the genre as a whole, and shy or not, he had vision and leadership to take his local dominance and a) expanded it worldwide, and b) reached cultural relevance (pop-culture, if you wish) outside the genre – which is what I have heard is the ‘goal’ of pretty much every classical music organization across the world: “reach new audiences”, right?

  • Simon S. says:

    One might want to add: “a 12-1 Slipped Disc outsider to succeed Simon Rattle” – Norman Lebrecht, author, journalist, blogger, December 2014.



  • DESR says:

    He is a very fine opera conductor indeed. His Ring in Bayreuth was quite superb, a blessed relief from some of the nonsense on stage as Theodore McGuiver might care to confirm?

    Comparisons with the great Kleiber may be a touch premature but it has been very interesting to see how Bayreuth has made or unmade Berlin in this case!

  • […] Com 37 anos, Mahler assumiu o posto na Ópera de Viena. Petrenko assumirá seu posto em Berlim em 2018, quando contará com 46 anos – um ano a menos que Simon Rattle em 2002, e dez anos menos que Abbado em 1989. De algum modo, a Filarmônica de Berlim dobra a aposta feita em Rattle há treze anos atrás: mais uma vez terá por chefe um jovem, alguém decidido e com grande capacidade de trabalho, um líder que inspira os músicos sem marcas explícitas de vaidade ou carreirismo inoportuno. Norman Lebrecht faz um pequeno inventário sobre o opinião de outros músicos tarimbados. […]

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    He conducted Elgar 2 with the Berliners a couple of seasons ago. Another Russian Elgar fan!

  • Isaac Carneiro Victal says:

    For me Kirill Petrenko is a conductor without personality,a bureaucratic musician,time will show.Poor Berliner Philharmoniker!